A New Hampshire boy has been inducted as an honorary firefighter after retrieving his baby sister from their home before it burned to the ground.
It all started on July 23, when John Holt was taking care of chores around their home in Dummer. He had just finished cutting the grass and parked his lawn mower in the barn, which is connected to their house.
After spotting smoke coming from their conservatory about 20 minutes later, Holt opened the door of the decades-old barn to find an inferno. The mower is believed to have sparked the blaze.
After dialing 911, Holt handed the phone to his 8-year-old son Harrison to talk to a dispatcher, and tried to douse the flames with a fire extinguisher, but it was not enough to stop it.
Meanwhile, Harrison ran into the family's living room, scooped up his 11-month-old sister Marie and headed to the family's pre-designated safety location — an oak tree in their front yard — where his brother Patrick, 5, was waiting.
Holt then spotted his children all under the oak tree and safe from harm.
“Harrison was standing next to him [Patrick] and had Marie under one arm and the phone in the other arm,” Holt told InsideEdition.com. “Both of them were completely calm, especially holding Marie. [Harrison] carries her a lot so he had her wedged under one arm.”
Holt says the closest fire department is out of their town, about 20 minutes away.
He said Dummer is such a small town that they have no access to public water or fire hydrants, so the department had to stop to pump water into its trucks before arriving.
With no fire department nearby, the family could only watch as their home burned to the ground.
“It was a surreal experience,” Holt said.
Once the Milan Fire Department arrived, they took note of Harrison’s noble actions.
“It’s quite extraordinary,” Chief Bud Chapman of the Milan Fire Department told InsideEdition.com. “His actions saved the life of his sister.”
To mark his heroic deeds, Harrison was recognized as an honorary firefighter and awarded a department badge.
“He’s [also] getting a personalized, authentic one so he’s very excited,” Holt said. “He’s hoping he can keep both so he can give one to his brother.”
Holt added that he's extremely proud of his son.
“When something like this happens you step back and you say, 'Wow he’s so kind, so considerate, he thinks about everyone else before himself,'" he said.
Chapman said the department fought the blaze for seven hours and the house was a total loss.
“It was a very fast-moving fire,” Chapman said.
The family is currently staying at a friends’ vacation house less than a mile away from what’s left of their nostalgic home, and while it's gone, Holt is grateful that his family was unharmed.
“There are priorities and we don’t put our hope in our stuff and our things,” he said.
His wife, Heather, was not home at the time, having left to pick up her grandparents by the time the fire erupted. She was also grateful no one was hurt.
"We are blessed," she said.
She explained that after she read an article in a magazine about fire safety just weeks before the blaze, her family had devised an escape and meeting plan.
Holt encourages other families to have a plan in case of emergencies. He advises coming up with a method simply by talking it through over a family dinner.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help the Holts construct a new home and provide supplies for the family.
“We will rebuild, definitely,” Holt said.